WASHINGTON, March 19, 2011 – U.S. troops continue to lend a helping hand to Japan today, committing dozens aircraft along with thousands of Marines and sailors to Operation Tomodachi in the past 48 hours, military officials reported.
About 17,000 U.S. military members and more than 100 aircraft are involved or prepared to assist in relief operations in Japan, Defense Department officials said, and 14 ships from the U.S. 7th Fleet are supporting relief efforts.
About 4,000 Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 11 arrived off the coast of western Japan yesterday. The troops are capable of delivering relief supplies by ground and air, providing medical assistance, transportation assets and engineering equipment.
More than a dozen aircraft relocated yesterday to Naval Air Facility Misawa in northern Japan from Naval Air Facility Atsugi and Kadena Air Base in southern Japan. A total of 13 helicopters and about 500 sailors are repositioned to Misawa, nearly doubling the base’s Navy population.
Ships from the USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group arrived off the coast of western Japan yesterday with more than 150 amphibious vehicles and 25 aircraft. The ships are providing fresh water, medical support, search-and-rescue support, heavy lift capabilities and amphibious aircraft.
The USS Tortuga delivered 93 vehicles and 273 Japanese soldiers ashore by landing craft March 17 near Ominato in northern Japan. The ship is distributing 5,000 bottles of water and 5,000 meals to Misawa for further distribution.
The amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown in the Sea of Japan received 85 pallets of food and fuel March 17 from various relief organizations.